Worldwide attitudes to regulating health

January 22, 2009


I know we often feel ‘nannied’ by the Government in many areas and health is certainly a prime one. There is the ‘no operation’ unless you lose weight/give up smoking lobby and the imposition of rules around tobacco and alcohol are no longer questioned. But we are not alone in facing new and increasing government interference in what was once nobody’s business but our own?

I reported last year on the new proposal in the US for government workers to have to pass a monthly medical or they get their health insurance cover paid, and what if the Government insisted on regularly checking your waistline once you hit 40?

Personally, I stopped checking it years ago and I don’t see what business that is of the Government’s but it is being proposed in Japan. Anyone deemed too fat would be forced to have dietary counselling and if they didn’t shift the weight there would be penalties both for them, and for their community. The Japanese government’s argument is similar to that of the public employee one in the US, in that it has to have an input of how people live because bottom line is that the Government pays for the consequences of their lack of health care. eg that it must regulate citizens’ lifestyles because it is paying their health costs.

In 2007 in the UK censorship for health reared its head over a TV ad when The Egg Information Service wanted to screen an advert, which featured comedian Tony Hancock, to celebrate its 50th birthday. The offending item came in an iconic series of ads made in the 1950′s and whose slogan encouraged viewers to ‘go to work on an egg’. The advertising watchdog said went against the principle of eating a varied diet and refused to allow it to be shown.

Oh, and if you are fed up with all this and thinking of emigrating, I wouldn’t put New Zealand on your list unless you are healthy and slim, or willing to diet. Their government banned an overweight man and his wife from entering the country on the grounds that their obesity would “impose significant costs … on New Zealand’s health or special education services.” It had the right effect as he lost weight and was allowed in, but his wife couldn’t stick to the regime and had to stay home.

If you don’t watch your weight in Germany you are named as being “antisocial” for the amount of money you are costing the state in medical treatment.

If you know of a nice country that allows you to take responsibility for your own health then let me know and I will compile a list.


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